And Then He Was A She

Ash Stymest photographed by Hedi Slimane for Vogue Hommes Nippon.

Are men being feminized? How you answer that question depends on what you think a man can be. Conservatism has a small definition that pits beauty against being a man. It forces a gender war into the equation. The paternal instinct fears men being weak which is the same as being like a girl.

Conservative standards of male style have little chance of lasting forever. Don't wear baggy jeans gives way to don't wear skinny jeans. Don't grow out your hair. Grow out your hair and don't you dare put on a skirt. The most constant thing in fashion is change. Sometimes men were even supposed to be pretty, to be a peacock. Male beauty was once a subject of general appreciation and of the artistic "male gaze", as Germaine Greer described in her book The Beautiful Boy. In western society this liberty declined with the rapid ascent of early modernism, but its surged again into a degree of acceptance.

Male beauty isn't a topic of consideration, appreciation, or discussion. Especially among men. The difficult middle path seems wisest here. There will always be men attracted to the iconography of the hunter/warrior, but others will find a kind of sensuality in battle as the Greeks did. There's one largely accepted art form that's driven along this road in our times. Rock and roll entertains the dissonance, and finds pleasure in it.

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